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Higher Ed in the News

UC Berkeley requests voluntary genetic testing from class of 2014

May 20, 2010

Incoming freshmen at the University of California, Berkeley will get a cotton swab this summer on which they can, if they choose, send in a DNA sample.

The university plans to analyze the samples from inside students' cheeks for three genes that help regulate the ability to metabolize alcohol, lactose, and folates.

After the genetic testing, the university will offer a campus-wide lecture by professor of genetics Jasper Rine about the three genetic markers, along with other lectures and panels with philosophers, ethicists, biologists and statisticians exploring the benefits and risks of personal genomics.

The project, the first mass genetic testing by a university, was designed to help students learn about personalized medicine and identify their own vulnerabilities.

While the Berkeley professors see the gene testing as relatively harmless, others say that all genetic knowledge carries risks.

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Read more from the New York Times.